PC 81 | Inside the Mind of a Sponsor with Jodey Smith

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Profitcast FeedburnerWelcome back to Profitcast! We’re excited to share this installment of the podcast with you because it features Profitcast’s very first sponsor, Jodey Smith! Since we leave no rocks unturned here at Profitcast, Brian decided that rather just announcing a new, and a first, sponsor, that he’d actually bring Jodey on to discuss the how and why and what for prompting him to come alongside Brian financially.

We get inside the mind of a sponsor this week and hope it will encourage you on both sides of the coin, to both consider supporting a podcast financially and also to think about partnership in a different way.

Jodey describes his means and motivation for becoming Profitcast’s first sponsor on this episode, but I will leave it up to your eager ears to absorb those details because they’re so much better coming from the mouth of the man himself. I actually had the privilege of meeting Jodey just this past September when Brian and I were in Atlanta for DragonCon. Golden Spiral Media organized a quasi-traditional meet up at a restaurant in Atlanta and Jodey drove down from Gainesville to join in the fun.
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Though our paths never crossed during our time at TV Talk, I do remember his name getting thrown about, but mostly I knew his name from Brian. At that dinner in Atlanta I got to experience first hand Jodey’s depth of knowledge both in podcasting and web development, as we shared many common interests and found it incredibly easy to converse over these shared interests! I will admit, though, while he and Brian prefer Gold Rush, I am more of a Dual Survival fan myself. But preferences are what make the world go ‘round, right? I don’t hold it against either of them.

Jodey offers a pretty straight forward service: podcast launch coach. From what I’ve heard, the service primarily comes in two forms: either a done-with-you service or a tell-me-what-I-did-wrong service, both of which are highly recommended from a wide assortment of podcasters. Sometimes the hardest part about podcasting is just getting to the point where you can do what you do best (and for many of you that is getting behind the microphone), and Jodey provides a service that doesn’t necessarily alleviate the need to go through that initial process, but creates a structured and methodical environment for that process to occur in a way that alleviates stress.

So this week we’re pointing you at Jodey and the service he provides! A huge thank-you to Jodey for sponsoring Profitcast and we will continue to remind you week in and week out about his services. Please check out his website, jodeysmith.com and contact him there. If you’re interested in being like Jodey and sponsoring Profitcast, please get in touch with Brian! The easiest method is to send him an email (brian@profitcastuniverse.com).

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PC 80 | 3 CRITICAL things to MASTER with Dave Jackson

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Profitcast FeedburnerMastering a craft is a lifelong journey, a journey we welcome here at Profitcast with open arms! While most professions and career paths have varying degrees of mastery, entrepreneurs and creative types often have a more difficult time qualifying mastery due to the often subjective nature of our skills and the impact society has on the value of those skills.

Trades like operating a switchboard or doing data entry or door-to-door sales are outdated, but the core concepts of those trades are not. Skills like thinking on your feet, attention to detail, and interpersonal communication are prevalent in these outdated jobs that can be honed and applied elsewhere once a trade becomes irrelevant. But when we’ve managed to convince ourselves that the trade we once thrived in, and is now deprecated, was our only means of maintaining a livelihood, we’ve fallen into a poverty mindset.

In this week’s episode of Profitcast, The Real Brian and Dave Jackson have an important discussion about some potentially uncomfortable, but entirely necessary, critical things to master. I am of the belief that our culture, abundant in its Puritanical roots, has made it unnecessarily difficult to talk about subjects like worth and value, particularly when trying to be objective about ourselves, because of a historical emphasis on praising humility and shunning pride. While it is certainly admirable to be humble, and less admirable to be prideful, the behaviors resulting from striving for being more of one and less of the other has created an incredibly large rift between objectivity and honesty. We think we are being honest with ourselves when we are more critical, when in fact our objectivity is skewed by the culture through which we filter our perceptions.

When it comes to our own livelihood, our own passion and our own objectives, it is our prerogative to do an honest skills assessment and self-evaluation, not just through our own lens but also through the lens of trusted colleagues and friends. This means not devaluing our own experience, whether it is through a facade of humility or a misunderstanding of our own skill sets.

The company I worked for prior to the one I am currently working for had a very, very unique hiring process and I think it is worth outlining here briefly because it was the first time I felt I took an honest look at my own abilities and their value.

I performed three tasks for this hiring process:
1) Took a Kolbe Assessment (for a little more info on this, I wrote about it in episode 55).
2) Recorded an audible account of what I believe my top three skills/attributes were.
3) Asked 12 people close to me answer this question: “Please list and describe Emilee’s strengths.” And then discussed and coalesced their results to develop a sort of massive Venn diagram of how other people see me.

Personality assessment, self-evaluation and data-gathering. Individually they say different things; the assessment can explain why I do what I do; the audible self-evaluation forces me to articulate my perception of myself; and the data-gathering from people close to me forces me to see myself through the eyes of the people who should know me best.

I learned so much about myself through this process, but what was so critical to me was the fact that I found the courage and confidence to stop apologizing for being a certain way. What I wrote about in episode 55 was how I learned through my Kolbe assessment that I do not work well with generalities. This is only a weakness if I don’t know how to work within my comfort zone. If I continually pressure myself to strive for results without specifics, I will spend my days frustrated and anxious. But if I recognize that my immediate paradigm has too many generalities and work on breaking them down into specifics, I find that the pressure alleviates and I not only complete my work faster, but better.

If you’ve been sucked into the poverty mindset, or the self-destructive mindset of worthlessness or unrecognized value, I challenge you to find a way out of it. Brian and Dave give some excellent tips to objectively, and realistically, look at your own “avatar” so that you understand your true value. Don’t be afraid to set goals that seem high, as long as you’re willing to do the work necessary to get yourself there.

Brian and David use musical metaphors throughout the podcast, but I’m Minnesotan…and Minnesotans like their rifles and guns, so I’m going to leave you with a shooting metaphor. One of my favorite quotes comes from one of my favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau: “In the long run, men only hit what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.” Ironically, Thoreau was a pacifist, but I’m not talking about war or resistance to civil government here. I’m talking about yelling “Pull!”, looking through the scope of a rifle, and following the clay pigeon as it soars into the sky before shattering it a hundred yards in the air with a .22. It is highly satisfying when the combination of instinct, coordination, and subtle understanding of physics and aerodynamics to come together and annihilate a clay pigeon. And that satisfaction can be achieved in all walks of life… but it takes practice, commitment, and a willingness to learn.

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PC 78 | Essential WordPress Plugins for Your Podcast with John Overall

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Profitcast FeedburnerHoly plugin toy box, Batman! According to WordPress.org, right now there are 42,080 plugins. Sometimes, numbers like that can be intimidating, but I like to think of it similar to online dating. There is a very large pool of individuals who are all registered at a specific service, and yet only a few at any point will be matched to another profile based on the criteria they’ve specified. Just like with a life partner, it’s essential to know what you’re getting with a WordPress plugin… so be picky!

As it turns out, this week’s Profitcast delves into a topic I have a little bit of expertise in! By day I am a application developer, and though I haven’t built any WordPress plugins, I did build a couple modules for DNN and can say from experience that the more you know, the better. Brian chats with John Overall of the WP Plugins A to Z Podcast for a rather unusual, but nonetheless useful, episode. We spend a lot of time talking about production quality, content value and techniques for marketing, but not a whole lot of time considering the other aspects to a podcast.

There will be folks on both sides of the you-have-to-have-a-website argument. Just two weeks ago, Glenn told us that he never visits the website of a podcast he listens to. Why? The podcast is there so he doesn’t have to sit down and stare at a screen. While this is a valid point, there are many reasons to have a web presence, particularly if your podcast topic is something that necessitates a website. But more than that, it simply increases the visibility of your podcast.

With that in mind, it can be very intimidating to look at all the components required to set up a website. Domain, web host, CMS (i.e. WordPress, DNN, Drupal, Joomla), security, users… And then, when WordPress is installed and you’re staring at the default theme with the default text and the default headers, you think, now what?

John provides some excellent advice for weeding through plugins, and I’d like to bring up a few here and provide a little commentary to help encourage your efforts in creating a web presence.

Map It Out
This is great advice from John, and something I always start with when designing a website for a new client. Every website is unique because it has to fulfill a unique need, so don’t jump into a new WordPress site figuring that you’ll orient your content around the plugins you choose.

Start with your content, sketch or outline the structure of your website, and consider how you want to display each aspect of your content. Once you have the needs in mind, then you can start looking for plugins that will help facilitate those needs.

Read the Comments
…with a grain of salt. Smart online shoppers read and interpret reviews of products. How often will a user give a product 1 star because they ordered the wrong size or color? And how often will a user give a product 5 stars because “it arrived on time”? No, we’re looking for the reviews of users who’ve received the product and wore it or used it and have something to say about their expectations and the quality of the product.

Side note: I’ll admit that I sometimes just read Amazon reviews for the heck of it. My favorites are the ones that start off like this: “I bought this for my boyfriend for our 1 year anniversary because I didn’t get him anything on our six month and he got something for me!! He’s so sweet and kind and caring and I wanted to do something nice for him….”

Read the Manual
Every new toy I get, whether it’s my awesome new Cassini telescope or my JBL Flip speaker, I read the manual cover to cover. Sometimes it’s a total waste, but more often than not I learn something very valuable that enables me to do something right the first time. Before downloading a new plugin, read the documentation that the developer has made available. In addition to being aware of the extent of that plugin’s capabilities, you’ll also learn a little bit about the developer and what you can expect from the future of that plugin.

One of the biggest red flags for me as I look into new plugins is whether the developer can even modestly articulate the functionality of their plugin. Popular ones like Jetpack and Akismet seem to have someone devoted to writing their documentation, but some of the more obscure plugins that do more obscure work can be, as I like to say, iffy. While it doesn’t necessarily mean I write them off for not being able to explain what their product does, it may be indicative of the help they will be able to provide to you or even the intuitiveness of the product itself.

Also, these manuals will tell you exactly how to install the plugin, whether it has any dependencies, and which versions of WordPress it is compatible with. All very important things!

John has a ton of great suggestions for us this week! If you’re struggling with plugins, this is definitely one of those episodes that you need to listen to twice, and maybe the second time while you’re sitting at your desk, or at least have a pen and paper handy. A huge thanks to John! Be sure to check out his website and podcast. All the links mentioned in the show can be found below.

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PC 71 | 5 Tips to Grow Your Audience

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Profitcast Feedburner

Welcome back to Profitcast! If this is your first time with us: Welcome! This is a weekly podcast dedicated to the multidimensional study of profiting through podcasting. Whether it’s learning from other podcasters who have come before us, chatting with podcasters possessing certain expertise, or diving into some of the grainier details, we look at it all as vital to truly profiting through podcasting. As a community, and as individuals, we consider ourselves to be passion podcasters, because we love what we do and we do what we love.

This week we’re in some of the grainier details of a very large picture. To demonstrate the importance of taking the time to review and study this aspect of podcasting, I Seurat-1994-a-sundaywould like to use the example of Georges Seurat. You may best know this artist by his famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884). Click on the photograph to see the larger image, because this is one of those paintings where getting up close is just as important as taking a step back.

From far away we see a beautiful, colorful depiction of various individuals enjoying an afternoon outside. But up close we see the meticulous brush strokes, the wide array of colors, and the intimate detail of each figure depicted. It took Seurat two years to complete this painting. He was 26 years old. This 7ft by 10ft painting burst onto the scene as a blatant challenge to Seurat’s impressionist predecessors to such a degree that it initiated a new art movement, a spinoff of sorts, called neo-impressionism.

We might be entrepreneurs or business-minded, we might be audio geeks or podcast junkies, but we are also artists. We have a craft that we are passionate to excel in. By reading this blog post, by listening to this podcast, you care enough about your craft to seek out ways to refine your technique, to learn how to succeed, and to see how the rest of the world is faring.

If it’s difficult to connect with the idea behind a painting, then perhaps a sports analogy will suit you better. Peyton Manning is 3 yards away from breaking the record for all-time passing yards in the NFL. He didn’t get there by taking every summer off and only playing 16 games a season! Still at 39 years of age, Manning goes to practice every day, he sits and watches tape with the coaches, he talks with his receivers and offensive linemen, he builds relationships with the men on his team.

This week Brian gives 5 tips to grow your audience, which brings us back to some basics, but also has plenty for us to chew on as we think ahead about where our podcast can go or where we can go as podcasters.

Is your audio quality poor? There is a solid place to start making improvements. Learn about audio production and figure out where to invest so as to improve the audio quality of your podcast. There is no wasted time in learning about audio when the medium of your craft is audio!

Are you still trying to lock down a name for your podcast? Consider clarity above cleverness! How will the name of your podcast contribute to your visibility in a Google search?

On that note, are you starting a podcast in a niche that has a lot of competition? As the podcasting world becomes increasingly saturated it can be hard to find that fast growing niche without competition, but giving yourself every chance by making considerations before launch will significantly benefit you after launch.

Don’t be afraid to spend time painting blades of grass, if I can use a metaphor. It may seem boring or uneventful to take care of it now, but the effort you put into understanding how to cultivate an audience will be rewarded when you step back and look at your podcast from a distance… whether it’s two months from now or two years from now!

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PC 66 | Having ABUNDANCE With Your Podcast With Harry Duran

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Profitcast FeedburnerWhat time is it? Tool time! Fans of the classic television show, Home Improvement, still say this when asked what time it is. I still say it. Sometimes people who never have seen the show say it. Tool Time with Tim the Toolman Taylor was the alliteration of my childhood.

The premise of Tim’s reality show, Tool Time, is a great parallel for the vast array of information Brian and Harry discuss on this week’s Profitcast. Having abundance with your podcast harkens back to weeks past when we’ve discussed similar topics, such as the good-cheap-quick ideal, the you’ve-got-to-give-to-receive mentality, and in general, the focus on community and building relationships. This discussion is very important because it covers an area that we don’t touch on a lot, and that is the establishment of your tool bench.
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For those of you who don’t know, or may need a refresher, Tool Time was a reality show within the fictional television show Home Improvement. It is hosted by Tim Taylor (Tim Allen) and Al Bourland (Richard Karn), who are perfect foils for one another. Tim is knowledgeable, but accident-prone and immature, whereas Al is wise and competent, both grounding Tim and providing valuable information for the show, but also being the brunt of his jokes.

The irony I’m trying to highlight here is that Tim Taylor had a reality show about home improvement projects, but wasn’t the best at demonstrating the best way to go about it. In fact, it often ended up being the case that his method of doing things would be what not to do. While he was regaining his pride or recovering from an injury, Al would explain the proper way to perform the task and provide the insight for the reality show that undoubtedly sustained its fictional lifespan.

Tim not understanding his tool bench was the gaff that made the television show work. It was a comedy and a family drama, paralleling the similarities between the tools available to a father and the tools available to a handyman, and the fallouts of misuse (as well as the benefits of proper use!). Not knowing our own tool bench as podcasters doesn’t usually come across as a gaff, it comes across as embarrassing and often costs us more than time–sometimes it costs us listeners. We need to know our tool bench.

I was at the Minnesota Developer’s Conference last week and attended a track that basically presented a variety of tools for your “web arsenal” (i.e. gulp, grunt, webpack, to name a few). And even though the track left a little to be desired, I really liked the presenter’s opening comments. He showed us a picture of a messy tool bench, one where the tools are unorganized and in disarray, rusting, dull, or broken. When my workbench looks like that, I don’t want to get any work done. I’ll spend a quarter of the time just looking for the tools I need, another quarter of the time getting the tools mended or sharpened, and then I only have half of my original allotted time remaining to do the work I need to do.
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Then he showed a picture of a clean workbench, like this one (maybe a few more tools!), but with the point of saying that when tools are organized and the workspace is clean, it’s easier to jump into the gut of the work.

Part of becoming efficient is finding the right tools to do the work you need to do. This goes beyond buying the right microphone, the right soundboard, the right headphones. We’re talking about the details of our work that keep us from actual work. Harry says it very well, in that we need to each focus on the things we excel at and stop wasting so much time doing the things we’re only OK at. Not that we can’t, but that we don’t need to. Learning how to delegate the work we have to the people or resources who can do them better and more efficiently will make us more enthusiastic about tackling the work we’re passionate about. We’ve all been to that point where we’ve spent hours doing frustrating, mind-numbing work, only to reach the end of it all and be too exhausted to do what we wanted to do in the first place.

Everything about this episode of Profitcast is meant to give you tips and suggestions for reducing frustration and maximizing your time doing the work that you want to do. Make sure you have a notepad ready, because there is a lot coming your way!

The Webinar
As Brian mentioned, the webinar Tom Schwab initiated JUST FOR YOU! Six step process to use podcast interviews to rapidly grow traffic, leads and sales. It will be hosted by Tom and Brian on Wednesday Oct 7 at 7:30 PM Eastern. Register now!

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Yep! Heil PR 40 takes the lead in the microphone race!

heilpr40Yep! Heil PR 40 takes the lead in the microphone race!

I get asked frequently what microphone I use.  In fact, I hear this: “WOW you sound AMAZING/AWESOME/INCREDIBLE/<insert favorite adjective>! What microphone do you use?”  Gee… and I thought my voice and vocal training had something to do with it… but alas…

Here’s a review to answer your question!  Now, before I go any further, I want to preface with two things:

  1. These are my opinions based on my experiences.  I know some of you have strong opinions on which microphones to use and so I invite you to share your experiences in the comments below as we can all learn from each other so we can sound the best possible!
  2. While there are good mics and bad mics, we have to remember that not all VOICES are created equal and, therefore, it’s essential to understand which microphone YOUR voice will sound the best on before making a decision.

Here is my Reader’s Digest recap of the Heil PR 40:

  1. It sounds fantastic
  2. It’s the most forgiving mic from a “sweet spot” perspective that I’ve experienced
  3. It sounds very similar, if not as good, as most professional radio station mics for quite a bit less money
  4. It does look cool… I know that’s not the reason for purchasing a mic but hey… I gotta be honest… it looks AWESOME. :)

Now for the details.

It sounds fantastic

It really does.  I love the way the Heil makes me sound.  I first used the Heil with a radio station I programmed.  The Heil made each of us sound so much more professional than any of the other mics we had go through the station.

On the other hand, a friend/colleague of mine brought up the point of how each person’s voice sounds with different mics.  He has a unique voice because, although he sounded awesome on the Heil, he sounded even better on this 1970’s mic without a brand name that smelled like must, beer, funk, and classic rock.  Honestly, he rocked that mic like no one else could.  He even uses a Blue mic now and sounds incredible on it.  But that’s HIS voice.

I’ll argue that some people will sound better on some mics but most people sound awesome on the Heil.

The Heil PR 40 is also very forgiving

Many mics have this nice little sweet spot that’s so small, if you’re not eating the grill, you ain’t sounding great.  I had this problem so many times with co-hosts.  They weren’t trained on proper microphone technique.

The Heil, in my experience, has one of the most forgiving sweet spots for hosts who may not have as much technique behind the mic.

The Heil costs less than other professional mics with similar or even equal quality

I’ve used the Electro-Voice RE20 and the Shure SM7B that many radio stations use.  Phenomenal mics but you have to know microphone technique and know how to set those mics up with the proper additional equipment.  Sure, you could probably get by with just using one of those mics without additional equipment, but I found the Heil to sound as good as the other professional mics and it cost me less money and time to get running.

Other observations

I have hosted shows with co-hosts who used a Shure SM58, ATR2100, Blue, etc.  I’ll say this – they all sounded fine.  It really comes down to what fits you and your voice the best.  The ATR2100 is a fine mic for a budget.  It costs the least of all of the mics I’ve talked about and does a great job.  The Shure SM58, while designed for singers, is still a fantastic mic.  The Blue, although I’ve heard controversy on these mics, can be a great mic if it fits your voice well.

The Take-away

I recommend the Heil PR 40.  I love it.  It’s worked amazingly well for me and for the co-hosts I’ve worked with.  Just the fact that people ask me what mic I use because I supposedly sound “good” to them shows me that the mic also comes across as very professional and excellent to the listener.  It’s a worth-while investment but make sure to see which mic fits your voice, your budget, and your current needs!